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Subjectivity and social structure

Sarah Irwin (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 25 July 2008




The purpose of this paper is to foreground social relations and inter‐connections as important components in a conceptualisation of social structure. The paper argues that the seeming disconnection between the normative and the social structural is a problem of explanation rather than a novel feature of contemporary social life.


Data are used from extended interviews conducted on two areas, concerning ethnicity and belonging, and gender, work and care, generated during the ESRC funded “CAVA” project (Research Group for the Study of Care, Values and the Future of Welfare).


It is argued that more productive analyses of social diversity and social change ensue from better delineating the mutuality of normative and social processes.


Through its cultural turn, sociological research has reaffirmed the importance of normative and evaluative processes in shaping human experience and social life. However, new accounts have faced difficulties in connecting the normative and subjective with social structural processes. This paper confronts that challenge.



Irwin, S. (2008), "Subjectivity and social structure", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 28 No. 7/8, pp. 273-284.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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